Quantity over quality? Guilty.
Easy over hard? Guilty.
Let’s face it. Corsets are scary…to sew, that is. If you are someone who has neither the skill nor time to sew one, but you have a costume that needs one, what are you to do?
As always, Skeptical Nell is skeptical.
(This is going to be a long article because I want you guys to get as much info as I can, so be sure to check out PART II!)
As a skilled eBayer, I had bought many “corsets” off the auction site for Halloween costumes and Christmas presents. There are thousands of cheap, Chinese corsets out there in so many pretty colors, fabrics, and trims that anyone can find something to fall in love with. I have bought four of these lovelies for myself over the course of 5 years:
1) faux-leather map print underbust corset ($15)
2) a real leather corset with a zip front and full straps ($60)
3) A “Renaissance” corset vest/coat/bodice ($36)
4) A full-steel overbust corset ($60)
What did all three of these have in common? None of them fit. Yup. Not a singe one.
Note: Definitely not me or my sister.
The map corset was too large, even though it was a small and according to the listing measurements, I should have only been about to squeeze into a medium. However, I love the dang thing and gave it to my sister who fits in it perfectly and makes it look 10 times better than I ever did. It’s comfy and doesn’t achieve any cinch whatsoever because it is all plastic boning except for the steel busk. It’s great for everyday shenanigans, though, because it’s darn cute! I originally bought it for use in an overly-complicated allegorical costume (“All the world’s a stage/ and all the men and women merely players.” Get it? Get it? I’m in a map corset [world], a red cape [stage], and ballet shoes [players]! Still don’t get it? Neither did anyone else), but discovered it looks best over a t-shirt with jeans. Would I buy this kind of corset again? Heck yes! These little cheap corsets are perfect for plays, character costumes, and feeling great. Just bear in mind that they probably will not cinch you down to the same size as the model in the picture.
BTW, many of these “corsets” come with a matching “thong” as a bonus. Really?!
The second corset was of excellent quality, heavy leather, obviously designed with devious dominatrix activities in mind. I wore this one to a large Halloween party as part of a Silk Spectre-ish get-up. The leather did get a little warm by the end of the night, but it was soft and did not chafe. It was very nicely made and looked great, however the listing measurements lied again and it was too large, both length and circumference wise. It had a full-coverage back which controls the inevitable “back roll” you get if you are slightly squishy and you lace your corset tightly, but the back of this one was way too lengthy, even on my oddly long torso. The back was properly laced, too, with the pulling ends in the center, but I had to undo all that hard work in order to lace it sewing style just to get it small enough to wear. Lesson learned: order a LEAST a size down! Would I buy this kind of corset again? Yes, but I’d make double sure of the measurements and contact the seller for all the details before buying (most sellers have improved their listings since then, but it’s generally good policy to be the annoying customer that asks too many questions before making a purchase like this).
The third “corset” wasn’t really a corset. It’s more of a modern take on a Renaissance bodice with a 19th century tail coat thrown in for good measure. It looks awesome! It’s heavy brocade and has five plastic bones for structure, plus a ribbon-threaded front lacing. Again, it doesn’t pull in my waist even though it turned out to be too small! I can lace it up, but it is very tube shaped while I have lots of curves up top with small hips. It looks great from behind, though, and has become a staple for casual faire and Shakespearean events. The company I bought it from is, sadly, out of business now, but you can find similar designs on Etsy and eBay. My $35 was a steal and they are much more expensive now. Would I buy this type of corset again? Sure, but the one I have is good enough for now. You really only need one since it’s so versatile.
All these corsets are fun, but what if you are looking for something historical? Something that will actually pull your waist in and function as a legitimate undergarment?